For years, I have used forums for support because it was a common method for people to post questions. When you need support, the forum is usually what you see on websites. Of course, there are other tools for giving support to someone, such as ticket systems or simple documentation.
Theme Support is About to Change Here
For theme support, I installed bbPress. This is not the best solution because this forum plugin has minimal features. If you want something that is efficient, you will need to install third-party plugins to make enhancements. Unfortunately, this brings potential security risks to you.
Since using bbPress, we noticed a lot of problems of members posting, but not getting reply notifications. We also discovered that when you post a topic, even we were not getting notified. If you post a topic in need of help and we don’t get notified, it looks like we are ignoring you.
There are a few other reasons to drop bbPress, or forums in general; privacy is a concern. When you post to a forum, it’s open to public viewing.
So, I have made the decision to get rid of the forum and to begin using a ticket system.
There are a few ticket system plugins available for WordPress, but there will always be pros and cons to each one. To give you a better experience, there was no clear winner.
However, I believe I have found a possible solution with a plugin that combines a ticket system and a knowledge-base option. I am making this available for theme support right here at Rough Pixels. My plan is to offer it as a beta test run to observe how it performs—with your feedback of course.
I’m looking at a plugin called KB Support and have been testing it for a couple of days now. Overall, it looks like a very good plugin, although there are a few tweaks that I have brought to the developer’s attention that would enhance a user’s experience even more. Hopefully, they will take my recommendations.
The Forum Stays (For the Moment)
While we explore this new ticket system we have installed, I will keep the forum installed for the time being. You will need to be aware though that as crazy as it is, some topics are not alerting me to new posts. If you get no response within 24 hours of posting, use the contact form as a follow-up.
How to Submit a Ticket
Now that you have a support ticket system to try out, you can go to the Support main menu link and click on the submenu Submit a Support Ticket. When you have existing tickets, you can go to the same menu location but instead, click on Your Tickets.
UPDATE – June 20, 2019
The new beta testing of a quality support ticket system is doing OK. I will be running this beta test for the rest of June, and if all goes well, the bbPress forum will be dropped in lieu of the ticket system.
UPDATE & Quick REVIEW – August 21, 2019
I’ve been trying out the KB Support plugin for a couple of months now. I wanted to give you the ability to submit support tickets. For the most part, this plugin performed good, although not exceptional. I’ve recently removed the bbPress forum and focused on using the ticket system, but I’m encountering issues with this setup. I looked into the plugin’s documentation, but unless I missed it, there are some things that need attention.
- Requires a Support Agent – It appears that tickets need an agent to respond; the site admin (me) cannot unless I am an agent myself. An email notification is sent to my inbox, letting me know a ticket has been submitted. However, I have to wait for another email to be received as an agent. Only then I can do the replies. I should be able to not have agents (myself) and reply/manage tickets as the site admin.
- View Ticket and Replies Toggling – Annoying that the toggle for “View Reply” is so small and difficult to see in the admin area, but also for the end-users. To make things easier for you, some custom styling had to be done to turn the text into a button.I’ve also discovered that the user cannot see more replies when clicking on “See More”. Apparently, there was a bug where a link to show older replies was not working. There is a bug somewhere. Unfortunately, I’ve been testing the free version of this KB Support plugin, and the developer does not seem to give support.
- Agent or Site Admin Cannot Set Ticket as Resolved – Unless this is a bug somewhere, I noticed that the SLA status cannot be changed by the site admin or the agent. If this is not a bug, then this needs to be set as a default option. This creates a list of tickets where the customer might forget to close/resolve it, so I get several that show as a red X Resolved
- Plugin Loads Scripts and Styles on Every Page – For sake of page load times, these should load only on the page where the ticket system is being used. I could modify my theme’s function file with conditionals, but a person should not have to do that.
There are many things I like about this plugin, but there are things I’m not a fan of. I will keep the ticket system for a while longer, but the plan is to seek out an alternative. I might go back to a forum concept (not bbPress).
With an upcoming redesign of Rough Pixels, I will look into a better support system.
Support for our theme users/customers/members is just as important as the theme itself, so I want to make sure it’s a solid platform.